Review: 'Los Fuertes' a Tender Same-Sex Love Story

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday November 28, 2020

Antonio Altamirano and Samuel González in 'Los Fuertes'
Antonio Altamirano and Samuel González in 'Los Fuertes'  

Writer-director Omar Zúñiga Hidalgo's film "Los Fuertes" (The Strong Ones)" is set in and around the Chilean city of Valdivia and its fortifications, an important site on the war of Chilean independence. It's to this fairly rural area that Lucas (Samuel González) has come to visit his sister Catalina (Marcela Salinas) before he leaves for Canada, where he has won a scholarship.

Things between Lucas and his parents are strained, possibly because he's gay; things between Catalina and her husband Martín (Rafael Contreras) are also strained, though for different reasons.

Leaving the city of Santiago, and Chile in general, seems to Lucas like a path toward freedom. But then he meets Antonio (Antonio Altamirano), the grandson of Catalina and Martín's housekeeper. Antonio is a fisherman trying to extricate himself from a dalliance with a married shipmate named Roca (Nicolás Corales); he, too, seeks a path toward freedom, but for Antonio that would mean staying put and purchasing a fishing boat of his own.

Their time together is joyful, but as Lucas' departure date draws closer shades of grief and anger start to surface. The question, of course, is whether the two men can forge a common path, or whether their lives and ambitions will inexorably pull them apart.

Comparisons to "Weekend" are natural enough, especially given the tender, compelling performances of the two leads. González and Altamirano share a palpable chemistry, whether their characters are sneaking passionate kisses, having passionate sex, or cuddling up contentedly for a good night's sleep. But "Los Fuertes" is very much its own film, examining how community, family, and country color and influence our lives. This is sure to be a festival favorite, so don't miss it!

"Los Fuertes" plays at the OUTShine Film Festival Dec 3-6, 2020

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.